Ipswich, Queensland, Australia*

The City of Ipswich was incorporated in 1904 as an independent municipality but subsequent development has effectively connected it to greater Brisbane. Downtown Brisbane lies only 20 miles east of Ipswich and Ipswich is therefore under intense development pressure. Although Ipswich has a population of 180,000, the City also has working farms which the State of Queensland has designed as rural production areas which should be protected from urban sprawl.

Ipswich sought to discourage the fragmentation of peri-urban land by adopting a transferable dwelling entitlement (TDE) program in 2004. The sending areas are primary production, conservation and constrained lands. The receiving areas are properties in the rural living zone. Essentially, owners of land in the rural living zone can increase the number of lots they would otherwise be permitted in return for the retirement of a dwelling entitlement on a contiguous or non-contiguous property in the sending area. The transfer ratio is one to one, meaning that the number of lots remains unchanged following the transfer; however, the lot foregone on the sending site may be larger than the bonus lot created in the receiving area. The procedure requires the sending and receiving site owners to file a joint development application for a boundary adjustment.

Approximately 20 dwelling entitlement transfers have been approved and the City has received additional applications. This level of activity suggests that some sending area landowners want to reduce development that could interfere with farming activities and likewise that there is demand in the receiving area to create additional rural lifestyle lots relatively close to urban facilities.

*Background information for this profile comes primarily from a drafts of “Tradable Development Rights to Protect Peri-Urban Areas: Lessons from the United States and Observations on Australian Practice”, Ben Harmon, Peter Houston and Rick Pruetz. Journal of Environmental Planning and Management, December 2013.